The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected economies in Southern African Development Community (Sadc) with only Tanzania registering high growth followed by Malawi despite a paltry growth.
Ironically, Malawi’s economy only grew by a meagre 0.9 percent, one of the lowest rates the country has achieved in decades in terms of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate.
Tanzania’s growth of 4.8 percent in 2020 at the time can be explained by the policies of that country’s former president John Magufuli who did not impose lockdowns and denied existence of coronavirus before his death.
According to a Sadc Council of Ministers “draft annotated agenda” report The Nation has seen dated August 6 2021 and set for presentation this Friday, most Sadc member States economies were in recession—a period of economic decline during which trade and industrial activity shrinks and is generally manifested by a fall in GDP over two successive quarters—in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Reads the report in part: “All member States recorded contractions in real GDP growth in 2020 except for Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania who recorded minimal growth rates not exceeding 5.5 percent.”
But despite registering positive growth rates, both Malawi and her neighbour Tanzania failed to meet the desirable growth rate benchmark for sub-Saharan Africa of six percent which development economists say meaningfully impact on poverty reduction efforts.
In terms of GDP, the report reveals that preliminary data indicates Sadc regional GDP growth contracted by 4.7 percent in 2020. For the 2021/22 financial year, Sadc forecasts the regional economy to grow by 2 percent in 2021 and 3.2 percent in 2022.
The forecast economic recovery in 2021 and beyond is largely hinging on measures put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19 and mitigate its socio-economic impacts, which include the enhancement of national and regional capacities in producing medicines, medical supplies, and developing vaccines, and harnessing digital technology across sectors, Sadc says.
In an interview yesterday, international development expert Peter Yakobe said failure by most member States to grow their economies last year as reflected in the Sadc report was symptomatic of the harsh macroeconomic environment that most countries are passing through in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Of course almost each and every member State boasts of a different or unique economic landscape, but the common denominator is that Covid-19 had affected each and every country, of course by different magnitude or level.”
At global level, the Covid-19 pandemic is said to have triggered the deepest global recession since World War Two.